Reducing the Harms of Marijuana Prohibition

Marijuana arrests are the engine driving the U.S. war on drugs. Nearly half of all drug arrests each year are for marijuana-related offenses, the overwhelming majority of which are for personal possession. These arrests fall disproportionately on blacks and Latinos, even though white people use marijuana at similar rates. Many of those who are arrested are saddled with a criminal conviction that can make it difficult or impossible to vote, obtain educational loans, get a job, secure housing, or even adopt a child. Additionally, the huge number of marijuana arrests each year usurps scarce law enforcement, criminal justice, and treatment resources at enormous cost to U.S. taxpayers.
 
The Drug Policy Alliance works to reduce the number of marijuana related arrests and associated penalties through crafting and advocating for legislation removing or reducing criminal penalties, initiatives making marijuana arrests the lowest law enforcement priority, and community based policy changes.  
 
DPA also works to expose and reduce rampant, system-wide racial disparities in marijuana arrests. DPA has released reports documenting and detailing chilling disparities in New York City and across California and continues to raise awareness about the unique burden U.S. marijuana policy places on black and Latino communities.
 
Marijuana prohibition has also caused incalculable violence and destruction by fostering an illegal marijuana market.  Organized crime, drug cartels, and gangs are the greatest financial beneficiaries of marijuana prohibition. In Mexico, illegal marijuana sales have contributed to the loss of tens of thousands of lives.

Tale of Two New Yorks Endures Under de Blasio as NYPD Continues Discriminatory Marijuana Arrest Crusade

From March to August Under de Blasio/Bratton, NYPD Made More Marijuana Possession Arrests than Bloomberg/Kelly in Same Period of  Previous Year

Extreme Racial Disparities Persist as Blacks and Latinos Make up 86% of Marijuana Possession Arrests, Despite Young Whites Using at Higher Rates

NEW YORK: A new report released today by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and the Drug Policy Alliance shows that, despite campaign promises, marijuana possession arrests under Mayor de Blasio are on track to equal – or even surpass – the number of arrests under Mayor Bloomberg. As under the Bloomberg and Giuliani administrations, these arrests are marked by shockingly high racial disparities.

Contact: gabriel sayegh (646) 335-2264 or Tony Newman (646) 335-5384

Race, Class and Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio's Two New Yorks: the NYPD's Marijuana Arrest Crusade Continues in 2014

October 20, 2014
Drug Policy Alliance | Marijuana Arrest Research Project

A new report documents shows that, despite campaign promises made in 2013, marijuana possession arrests under New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are on track to equal – or even surpass – the number of arrests under his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The report includes extensive analysis of marijuana arrest and income data, showing  that overall, low income and middle class communities of color face dramatically higher rates of marijuana possession arrests than do white communities of every class bracket.

D.C. Council Votes Unanimously to Strengthen Record Sealing Laws to Relieve People with Prior Marijuana Possession Arrest

Advocates See Council Effort As Reminder of Marijuana Prohibition’s Costs and Urge Support for Initiative 71

The D.C. Council voted unanimously today in favor of a bill that would improve the process by which a person can seal criminal records pertaining to conduct that has since been decriminalized or legalized. The D.C. Council is expected to take a final vote on the bill in late October and it will then go to Mayor Vincent Gray for his review. (Laws passed by the D.C.

Contact: Dr. Malik Burnett, 443-821-0260 or Tony Newman, 646-335-5384

Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies That Work

September 8, 2014
Global Commission on Drug Policy

This report reflects a new evolution in the thinking of the Global Commission, which includes Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, and the former presidents of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland. They not only reiterate their demands for decriminalization, alternatives to incarceration, and greater emphasis on public health approaches – but now also call for responsible legal regulation of currently-illegal drugs.

Marijuana Decriminalization Initiative Officially Certified By Santa Fe City Clerk

First Time in New Mexico History People will Vote on Marijuana Reform

Santa Fe-  Today the city of Santa Fe's City Clerk announced the Reducing Marijuana Penalties Campaign submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the city's citizen initiative process setting the stage to give voters in Santa Fe a vote on reducing marijuana penalties.

Contact:

Santa Fe: Emily Kaltenbach, 505.920.5256
ABQ: Patrick Davis, 505.312.8509

New York Times Editorial Board Calls for Repeal of Marijuana Prohibition!

Paper of Record Makes History, Calls Marijuana Less Harmful than Alcohol, Calls on Federal Government to End Ban on Marijuana

The New York Times editorial board made history today by calling for an end to marijuana prohibition. The paper of record broke new ground by calling for the federal government to end the ban on marijuana.

The forceful editorial linked marijuana prohibition to the failed alcohol prohibition policy of the 1930’s, and said marijuana is a less dangerous substance than alcohol.

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384

10 Facts About Marijuana

July 25, 2014
Drug Policy Alliance

These are ten top facts about marijuana policy and effects, with detailed supporting information and citations.

Drug Policy Alliance Details What Public Needs to Know About New D.C. Marijuana Decriminalization Law

Today is Day One for Far-Reaching Decriminalization Law in the Nation’s Capital

Persons Caught With Up to One Ounce of Marijuana in D.C. Are Fined $25 by D.C. Police Officers

Washington, D.C. – A far-reaching marijuana decriminalization law took effect in the District of Columbia today that replaces jail time with a $25 fine for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. However, advocates emphasize that there is still more work to be done in the nation’s capital to reduce severe racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement by D.C. police officers.

Contact: Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Grant Smith (202) 421-5031

D.C.'s Marijuana Decriminalization Law: What You Need to Know

July 17, 2014

On Thursday, July 17, 2014, the “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-305)” took effect in the District of Columbia, and makes possession of marijuana punishable by a $25 fine instead of jail time. This new law is expected to enhance civil rights in the District of Columbia by reducing racial disparities in arrest rates for marijuana possession.

U.S. House Votes to Allow Banks to Accept Deposits from Marijuana Stores and Dispensaries

Historic Vote Falls on Heels of Votes in May to Prohibit DEA from Undermining State Medical Marijuana and Hemp Laws

Meanwhile Conflict Over Washington, DC Decrim Law and Legalization Ballot Measure Increases

In a historic vote today the U.S. House passed a bipartisan amendment by Representatives Heck (D-WA), Perlmutter (D-CO), Lee (D-CA) and Rohrabacher (R-CA) preventing the Treasury Department from spending any funding to penalize financial institutions that provide services to marijuana businesses that are legal under state law. The amendment passed 231 to 192.

In May, the House passed an amendment prohibiting the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from undermining state medical marijuana laws and passed two amendments prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp laws.

Contact: Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Bill Piper (202) 669-6430

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